Laura Didyk: At Sea

My lover naps below
while I sun on the stern
in my sundress and dream

myself a woman born
for building ships.  In the
cushion of sleep I build

this one as I tarry on our
Alaskan island more than a century ago.
My lover is taken at sea

by a striking pirate
who is, underneath it all,
kind and soft and has

adorned my berth
in silk and jewels from the hold.
He touches me evenly

with kid gloves (twenty-two days at sea
and my thighs are much fleshier stories).
The blue woman and the red woman

etched on his forearms steer
the small of my back.  This dreamed
vessel, its handsome

mate, immaculate sails,
the worldly character of the sun looming above,
are all my doing.  I make myself

the only woman aboard
my bandit gets to win—a bottle
of port at my hip.  What I pity most is the untravelled

stationary woman who at night
falls into blank sleep, and awake,
veers from the world’s distant climes

and men.  The breast is a solemn
and familiar place, frightened of setting out—
but the bones, dearheart, the bones want motion.

Map the body’s route then the love you plan
to steal and hoard.  If nothing else
stay shoreless.  The land

husbands your power.
O serious traveler, ready yourself
to dream, to snatch the sable yawl

from the hulled body of the harbored boat
and row. In your berth with your pirate
when the aged ship rocks

fore and aft, there is no other region
you’ll want more than this.  Nothing
as delicious as this old salt in your bed.



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